John Oliver was exactly right. “Net neutrality” is really, really boring. Leave it to the left to remain satisfied with a totally lackluster name for an extremely important issue. Indeed, net neutrality might be the most difficult issue to sell since repealing “DOMA” or protecting “ANWR” (pronounced “anwar” — is it about war? Sadat? Al-Awlaki? And why should I be in favor of whatever it is?). Unless you’re totally locked into the debate, these terms and acronyms are about as marketable as referring to waffles as “dough grids.”
Conservatives, on the other hand, have been Luntzing it up with easily marketable frames for issues throughout the last 15 years, and they’ve done it again with net neutrality. Say what you will about Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), but referring to the issue as “Obamacare for the Internet” made it easily understandable among Republican voters — and to those who still don’t get it, the notion of “Obamacare” is enough for them to oppose it. Now, wouldn’t it be great if the left used something more catchy in response? Call it “Free Speech for the Internet” or “Internet Bill of Rights” or simply “Internet Equality.” Not only are these phrases accurate, but who the hell wants to be accused of opposing “Internet Equality?”
Unfortunately, the conservatives who gave us “Death Tax” and “Clear Skies Initiative” have managed to convince many middle and working class Americans to vote against their own economic self-interests. And in the case of net neutrality, it’s happening all over again, but this time, the undermining of Internet Equality would mean allowing the internet content and information supplied by supercolossal media corporations to enjoy better access to the internet tubes and thus more viewers, while smaller media companies — left, right and neutral — would be frozen out, with slower speeds and less access. For example, if the government doesn’t guarantee Internet Equality, “liberal media” outlet NBC News would enjoy faster pipes and more customers than, say, Drudge or RedState or Breitbart.
But, whatever, Ted Cruz says that the president’s goal to protect Internet Equality amounts to “Obamacare for the Internet,” so screw it. Let NBCUniversal totally destroy smaller competitors — just as long as we don’t have “Obamacare for the Internet.” See how that works?
The most recent example this week comes to us from the Koch-funded astroturf group, FreedomWorks, which released a video attacking Internet Equality. Once again, it deliberately misinforms its viewers of what net neutrality really is, persuading tea partiers to allow Charles and David Koch, along with their wealthy friends, to seize control of the internet and silence less-wealthy voices.
If you thought Andrew Napolitano’s use of the word “Orwellian” to describe net neutrality was, well, Orwellian, check out the name of this video: “Clearing Up Net Neutrality.”
But get a load of this. In the video, FreedomWorks’ communications coordinator, Iris Somberg, accuses the president of a horrible, horrible trespass against freedom:
“What net neutrality does is force providers to treat all web content equally. The same speeds, the same prices, the same access.”
Wait — this is bad? You mean, Time Warner and Comcast should be allowed to offer NBC News faster speeds than can be afforded by Michelle Malkin or Hot Air? And conservatives are okay with this? Okeedokee.
“Net neutrality makes small companies that don’t take up much bandwidth at all pay more, so that big companies can pay less.”
Huh? I have no idea what Iris is talking about. Small companies simply aren’t paying more than bigger companies. Right now, The Daily Banter has the exact same access to the internet as News Corp. We each have different hosting companies and server needs, but once our respective data hits the internet, readers can just as easily access our content as they can Fox Nation or the website for The Mindy Project, and neither company has to pay anything extra for that access. Doing away with net neutrality — again, Internet Equality — would mean that Fox News Channel could pay for faster speeds, while The Daily Banter wouldn’t be able to afford to compete with those speeds.
“Net neutrality is not a level playing field.”
Yes. Yes it is.
“It’s an anti-competitive policy that protects the internet’s biggest companies at the expense of everyone else.”
This might be the most twisted thing I’ve heard since Mitt Romney said President Obama “doubled” the deficit, when in fact he nearly cut the deficit in half. First of all, the telecoms are monopolies already. If you live in Philadelphia, try to subscribe to a cable company other than Comcast. Or if you live in Los Angeles, try to subscribe to a cable company other than Time Warner. Internet Equality would ensure that these companies are prevented from further exploiting their monopolies by creating a tier system for use of their pipes, therefore making life easier for “everyone else.”
This is an issue ripe for misinformation campaigns because very few people actually understand it. If net neutrality is going to win, its supporters need to construct an impenetrable means of defining it. Otherwise, the side that’s been marketing in weasel-words for more than a decade will walk away with this one, too.